The Motherhood Photography Workshop: Learning How to Use my Camera


At the start of the year, I made a resolution that 2017 was going to be the year I learned how to use a camera properly. I LOVE taking pictures, but am heavily reliant on my iPhone to do so. Photography is incredibly important to me for so many different reasons, but the main one is that it was my Grandad’s favourite hobby. I have many memories of him taking photos at all our family events, and in most of the photos I have of him; he’s there with his camera around his neck.

Since finding out I was pregnant at the start of the year, many things have taken a back seat, and using my camera was one of them. That being said, there has been a little niggling feeling deep inside that now probably was the time to learn. As I read umpteen lists about what to pack in my hospital bag, the camera was mentioned pretty much every time. I initially declared that I wasn’t going to bother taking it as I could just use my iPhone. Then came the many, many, reminders of our ‘complimentary Bounty photo-shoot’ that we are entitled to in the hospital. I’m sure many Mothers are grateful for this service, but personally I couldn’t bear to have someone else intruding on our first few moments as a new family, and at least if I had a ‘big girls camera’ in my hand, I’d feel more confident saying no.

My best friend Hannah takes the most amazing photographs of her gorgeous girls, and she without hesitation recommended that I go on one of The Motherhood workshops, run by Philippa James. Philippa is an incredible photographer, and I love her style of photography; natural, authentic, and the fact that she’s based in Oxford too is just the icing on the cake. When I discovered that there would be a workshop running a full 4 weeks before my due date, I realised that it was obviously meant to be.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA The lovely Philippa, before editingProcessed with VSCO with c1 preset The lovely Philippa, after editing


So, on a cold and dreary Sunday morning, Mr Makes dropped me off in Oxford. I was immediately greeted with a big hug and welcomed into Philippa’s gorgeous home. I would be spending the day with three lovely other Mums, who like me, were all heavily reliant on their phones for photography but wanted to know how to use their ‘proper’ cameras.

We started by learning some of the basics about what makes a good photo, experimenting lots with our cameras to help reinforce what we had learnt. This is definitely the way I learn best, so I was in my element. After lunch, we then started looking at composition, and again took lots of photos to help us practise, this time using some cuddly toys as willing models.


Processed with VSCO with c1 preset After editing

Over the course of the day, I found myself becoming increasingly more confident with my camera. There was lots of trial and error, and realistically most of the photos I took on the day will be deleted, but as I learnt from Philippa, that’s ok! Considering I started the day not knowing what most of the buttons on my camera actually did, I felt that I had made a huge improvement in just a few hours.

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There are three main reasons why I loved this workshop:

  1. The freedom to be creative. We were encouraged to develop our own style both throughout the day, and beyond!
  2. It was realistic. Philippa recognised that we wouldn’t have the time to be taking loads of photos, and so we were given lots of tips for capturing great shots with minimal time. She was also great at showing how to juggle taking photographs with being a Mum, and not missing out because you are watching everything through your camera.
  3. The Motherhood community! Once you’ve attended one of Philippa’s workshops, you’re invited to attend a super-secret online group where you can share tips, tricks, and get feedback from other Mums. I’m yet to post, but it’s clear that it’s a really positive, encouraging group, which is just what I need!

Over the coming weeks, I’m going to be using my camera as much as possible, I’m really hoping that I have the confidence to capture our little one’s first few months without slipping back into old habits. One thing I can happily report though, is that the camera is now definitely in the hospital bag!

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